Being on the wrong end of a career-night is never a fun thing. That’s exactly where the Miami Heat found themselves on Wednesday night when they visited the Brooklyn Nets. Newly-acquired Nets forward Mikal Bridges had the best game of his career against the Heat, scoring 45 points and leading his team to a 116-105 victory.
On top of Bridges scoring his career-high, Brooklyn was able to make things difficult for Miami throughout the February 15 matchup. The Heat shot just 45.8% from the field and 28.6% from beyond the arc in the loss.
Following his team’s well-rounded performance, Nets Head Coach Jacque Vaughn discussed his defensive philosophy against Miami, citing physicality as a main point-of-emphasis.
“We talked about being more physical, more physical in our switching, more physical on the off-ball screens. Just really getting our hands on people,” said via the Brooklyn Nets YouTube channel. “The referees are only can call a certain amount of fouls. So, we just wanted to be more aggressive. I thought we did that. You can see it, just from the dropped balls that they had, the deflections that we had. So, we were able to dictate some things in the second half for sure.”
Heat Have Spoken to Russell Westbrook About Potential Signing
Even with the trade deadline in the rear view mirror, there’s still time for the Heat to improve their roster ahead of the playoffs. The front office’s attention has shifted to the buyout market, where Miami could look to add a player or two to give their squad a boost.
Perhaps the most interesting buyout candidate that’s been linked to the Heat is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, a former MVP, was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz ahead of the deadline. Since arriving in Utah, there’s been speculation that he’ll be bought out of his contract, though nothing has happened yet.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnorowski, Miami is one of the teams that have been in contact with Westbrook
“I’m told that Russell Westbrook has permission from the Jazz to go out and explore with potential buyout teams a role elsewhere that might fit,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown. “He and his agent Jeff Schwartz have been spending this week doing that… Among the teams that they’ve communicated with: the (Chicago) Bulls, the (Los Angeles) Clippers, the (Washington) Wizards, the Miami Heat.”
Before being traded to the Jazz, Westbrook appeared in 52 games for the Lakers, playing 28.7 minutes each time. He averaged 15.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 41.7% from the field and 29.6% from beyond the arc.
Heat Considered ‘Suitor’ For Kevin Love
Westbrook isn’t the only player that Miami has been liked to in the buyout market. Most recently, The Atheltic’s Shams Charania reported the Heat to be a “suitor” for Kevin Love, Westbrook’s college teammate, once he is bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Love are finalizing a contract buyout, with the Miami Heat expected to emerge as a suitor for the five-time All-Star should the sides finalize parting ways, league sources tell The Athletic,” Charania reported.
He went on to detail why Love would be a great pickup for the Heat.
“The Heat have an open roster spot and have canvassed the market recently for a big man, sources said. Miami could offer Love a reserve role with ample minutes behind All-Star Bam Adebayo,” he wrote. “Miami is seventh in the East at 32-27, but only a half-game behind the sixth-place Knicks and 2 1/2 games behind the Nets.”